Notes from an Accidental Band Geek
By Erin Dionne
Elsie Wyatt is a born French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather before her. In order to qualify for the prestigious summer music camp of her dreams, she must expand her musical horizons and join – gasp! – the marching band. There are no French horns in marching band (what the heck is a mellophone??), but there are some cute boys. And marching band is very different from orchestra: they march, they chant, they . . . cluck? Elsie is not so sure she’ll survive, but the new friends she’s making and the actual fun she’s having will force her to question her dad’s expectations and her own musical priorities.
This Blonde’s Review:
Elsie is the kind of girl that doesn’t have many friends. She is more dedicated to her French horn than she is to any friendship. She is determined to follow in her father and grandfather’s footsteps and she believes she can do it at an earlier age than her father did. As part of qualifying for the camp she feels is an important step towards her goals she has to take part in marching band.
Elsie thinks marching band is a waste of her time and made even worse when she isn’t able to play her own instrument. She finds herself messing up often and doesn’t have the social skills to do feel comfortable in this new environment. She makes up her mind to quit until she overhears her father expressing doubts about her ability to succeed in her goals. Once Elsie puts her mind to it she starts to get better at being part of the band and even finds herself making friends.
Everything isn’t perfect for Elsie though. She is still devastated by her father’s lack of faith and refuses to practice her French horn when he can hear her. Her social skills can still use work and she finds herself alienating the friends who care about her and want to help her. She even finds a boy who likes her and soon pushes him away as well.
When she’s given an opportunity that will put more stress on her and cause her to choose between her friends and her goals, Elsie chooses her goals. As she struggles to hold it all together, she has to figure out what’s really important to her, and whether marching band is really as bad as she thinks.
I really enjoyed this one. I love that Elsie is socially awkward but doesn’t seem to notice it. We often see characters who are charming, shy and know they’re awkward, or proud to be so different from others. Elsie is just herself. She concentrates on her goals and doesn’t even recognize how she alienates others until it is thrust in her face. Her friends are all wonderful characters too, especially Punk, the boy who saves her from multiple embarrassing moments during band practice.
If you enjoy books about characters who are not socially talented, who are put in new situations they hate, and seeing the way the characters grow and change, you’ll love this one. I know I did and I look forward to reading more by this author!